Tuesday, August 11, 2009

disappointed. for now.

My tweet on Saturday night post-Mt. Disappointment 50-Mile finish read:

After today's masochistic race, am seriously thinking of retiring from ultras and spending weekends golfing and surfing instead.

And I was pretty damn serious too, especially considering how my golf game sucks and I have yet to catch a real wave.

Somewhere along the course as I was battling light-headedness, nausea, a bad knee, and the heat, I thought to myself, "Where the ƒüç˚is the fun in this?" Really now! I had one of those soul-searching questions, and I could not give myself an honest answer.

Now I may sound like I'm whining and crying like a little sissy, which I probably am, but before time erases the painful reality of this experience and sugarcoat it with a "job well done" kind of memory, I feel the need to jot this down. This race was not fun at all. Sure there were some bright spots like the beautiful trails and the spectacular views, and running with friends and seeing some of them cheering at the aid stations. But when I am contemplating doing this race again in a year, I must remind myself that this was a specially brutal day for me.

It wasn't purty, and it might've been my toughest race to date.

My first mistake came at the first 20-miles of the race. I felt I was going too fast especially on the downhills. I had pounded my knee, and now it was letting me know it wasn't happy about it.

Refueling at the Red Box aid station at Mile 20. Photo courtesy of @andrea122887

I was also having tummy issues early on and was doing a poor job of nourishing myself with my gels, aid station food and my own drop bag nutrition supplements. By the time I rolled down to mile 26 at the West Fork aid station, I was feeling pretty low that I was contemplating taking the 50K option and shortening my day.

Lori smiled all the way for a great finish to place 2nd in her AG.
Photo courtesy of Ben G.

Then I heard a little voice behind me say "E-Rod!" I turned around and it was Lori. We joked around for a bit, I took a seat, got myself some refreshments and we soon headed out. Jakob H., who I met at last year's PCT50 came up and decided to join us. He, too, was hitting a pretty low point but decided to move on with the race instead of doing the 50K. The three of us stayed together until the Newcomb aid station. There we found Thomas K. who was having some race day issues of his own.

The climb up out of West Fork to the Newcomb station. Lori and I met up with Ryan S. who I met at the SD100 training run and Jakob who ran up ahead to take our picture. ©Jakob H.

Jakob is enjoying a seat at Newcomb before tackling the next 9 miles to Shortcut Saddle. He and I always looked forward to the seats at the aid stations. ©Jakob H.

What followed must've been the one-two punch that knocked the wind out of me–a knee-tearing downhill of about 4 miles followed by the long and hot climb up to the next aid station. Lori had long since disappeared, apparently finding her wings and flying to the finish so it was just me and my compadre-in-pain. When I mentioned to Jakob that I was feeling a bit light-headed, the EMT from the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue asked if she can do a BP reading. It was low, but not low enough to DQ me for medical reasons. Dang! "Move on then, shall we?" I indicated to Jakob. The next 2.4 miles were drudgingly slow as Beiyi and Fred P. caught up with us. We arrived at Shortcut Saddle where they had a buffet which included pizza, boiled potatoes, fruits and the "original sponge baths" or something like that. I tried to eat some potatoes but they didn't stay in very long. I know, it's gross, but it happens.

Beiyi leads Fred, me and Jakob to Shortcut Saddle. ©Ben G.

Ben G. gave us each a wet sponge to cool us off. Jakob looks like he just stepped
out of the shower while I look like I could seriously use one. ©Ben G.

I got a second wind for the mostly downhill run to the last aid station at West Fork 2. We were there for several minutes until Gabor ran us out. Ahhh, I didn't want to leave yet!! I had done the final 4.5 miles before and I knew what was in store–the Kenyon Devore trail. It's the RD's idea of a sick joke. And I was doing my best to prolong the inevitable.

The worst of the worst came for me with less than a mile to go. I was reduced to the walking dead. Beiyi passed me up as I was violently trying to puke my guts out on the side of the trail. Again, I asked myself, "Where is the fun in this?" I had not been able to eat anything solid for the last several hours and now I could not even keep water down. Damn! I had not experienced anything like this before.

When I came out of the woods and into the parking lot, my friends, bless their souls, started chanting "Eric! Eric! Eric!" A couple of camera flashes disoriented me and I must've stumbled like the zombie runner.

Where am I? Oh yes, near the finish line just up that last climb.
Behind me are Jack C. and Fred in the neon green shirt. ©Jakob H.

Crossing the finish line, I didn't experience any of the post-race euphoria that normally accompanies the completion of an ultra. Relief that this was all over was probably more what I felt.

What I get for my efforts. This one will live in infamy for awhile.

Apparently, the EMTs were aware of my condition and decided that they would give me some TLC, serving me up with watermelons, soup and some good old-fashioned O2. That shot of oxygen sure did wonders.

The day after

I went to bed and I was knocked out for about 12 hours. Whew! I needed that! When I weighed myself in the morning I found out that I lost almost 10lbs. from the previous day's run. No wonder I felt so sick. So I spent the next several hours gorging myself with rice, lechon, veggies, halo-halo, taquitos, horchata, tiramisu, and whatever else I could get my hands on to put back some weight. I also went for a light swim and a little bit of pool jogging to help with my muscle recovery.

Someone asked me if I would do the race again, and I didn't hesitate to say "No!" After all, I still could not see where the fun in it was. But I know I will be back, if only to settle the score, and especially if my golf game doesn't improve and the waves continue to wipe me out.

Thanks to all who were out there lending their support, either running or helping out at the stations. There were plenty so please bear with me if I forget someone--Jakob who I ran and walked with for 25 miles, Lori S., Beiyi, Ben G. who was injured but was at almost aid station, Carmela, rePete, Andrea E. and friend, my carpool buds , Wilson and Jack who patiently waited, the DP who was there in spirit, and all my T-Headz friends, too many to mention. Big props also go to the Mt. D volunteers, to Gary for putting together a great event, and to the Montrose and Sierra Madre SAR for making sure all runners got off the trail safely.

For more photos of the race, check out Jakob's SmugMug gallery and commentary.


Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the pain you went through, but you are also my hero for sticking it out and crossing the finish. Mt Dizzy is a tough race, don't forget and it is very common for runners to switch to the 50k! You did well despite everything that went on and reading your about pain also makes me want to try it some time. So you are an inspiration even if you can't imagine;-)

Lori said...

Eric, I didn't know you were hurting so bad on the hill! You and Jakob were ahead of me most of the way out of Westfork and I thought it was just your knee, not your stomach.
But you did great finishing...it took alot of strength to keep going.
If it were me, i would have just laid down on the ground and become the bear's dinner.

Beiyi Zheng said...

Hi Eric,

So sorry you got disappointed. I was so surprised to see you and Jacob before reaching Shortcut. You didn't look bad though. But seeing you throwing up like that scared me. So sorry I couldn't be any help to you at that point :( You did make me climb faster and even ran the last 0.25 mile to the finish.

I am sure you will be BACK :)

Jody said...

Way to hang tough Eric. Sometimes our race days don't go as planned but somehow there is either something to be learned or an added shot of motivation gained as the difficult experience creates and fuels the goal of a rematch. Of course that usually happens once the pain and memories subside. =)

Stacey said...

It's amazing how fast your body can deteriorate once you're nutrition has faltered!

Hope the happy thoughts from the race are what stay with you (it'll take a few weeks).

Have a healthy recovery!

Anonymous said...

Wimp! Just kidding, bro. Screw those trails. Come back next year and kick their ass. You are tougher than those trails. Just had a bad day. You ROCK! -- Greg

ultrarunner said...

Eric, don't forget: The hardest finishes will remain strongest in our memories. Today that "bad" race will hunt your memories but soon you'll tap your own shoulders realizing that you kept going whereas others have thrown in the towel quick. You're stronger then you might think.

Congrats for sticking it out. And thanks for your grand companionship on the last 25 miles. It sure made a huge difference in my race outcome.

Pete Vara said...

Hey Eric- thank you for your story- we have all felt that way at one time or another- I know I have. Hang in there buddy- you will bounce back.

e-rod said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and your kind words...

Steph...oh no, this was not meant to inspire, but to serve as a warning. Well, if or when you decide to do it, I can give you the inside scoop on the course.

Lori...uhmm, i was laying down and waiting for the bear, but it got too hot so i decided to keep going. actually jakob and i sat our butts on the trail on our way to the water station. if a sag wagon came by, i would've gotten on it.

B...yeah, i bet it wasn't a pretty sight. i was trying to hold it in at least until you passed me, but

Jody...rematch, i like the sound of that. of course i can't think such thoughts right now while it's way too fresh in my memory.

Stacey...tell me about it. this was definitely not one of my smartest races and my body paid for it. eat, drink and be happy should be my trail mantra.

Greg...dood, i felt like such a wimp, but thanks for your vote of confidence. one of these days, i'll show mt.d that he's not the boss of me.

Jakob...thanks for those miles together, man. congrats for sticking it out, too. i know that you weren't feeling your best either.

Pete...yeah, i'll bounce back. it's nothing that a martini or margarita can't fix. lunch sometime?

Anonymous said...

Hi Eric, just like most ultra runner, “QUIT” doesn’t exist in our dictionary. You’ve prove to Mt. D course that you are stronger by crossing the finish line. GREAT JOB!
I will see you on the trail soon. And see you at 2010 Mt. D race.


Michelle said...

Hey there, Eric! I'm sorry you had such a tough race, but, you see, all your other races from now on will seem less painful! When you come back to put this race to shame, I will be there with you! (Either physically or in spirit!)
But your story is such an inspiration. It shows what a strong runner and person you truly are. Take care of yourself and we'll see you on the trails soon!

Anonymous said...

This could have been my race report as well. Glad you finished. The last climb killed me too and I knew what to expect, it was not pretty but we all finished. Of course, we will be back next year!
See you soon,

e-rod said...

hey wilson...you looked cool and strong when you passed me up. thanks for patiently waiting and not leaving me behind :) that would've been a long run to irvine.

michelle...thank you for those kind words and for always seeing the positive in everything. btw, great job on the pr! wow! you are sooo ready for dick collins.

thomas...yah, i was surprised that you weren't that far up ahead of me. congrats on hanging tough, too.

and before i forget, congrats to all the mt. d runners!

Anonymous said...

suck it up !
your golf game isnt going to get any better and you dont have enough body fat to float out of the big surf.
face it ... you're stuck with the trails !!!!!
you did an awesome job to hit the finish line and it will stay with you when things get tough down the road.

loris' wings

Anonymous said...

aww! :( I feel the same! lost my mojo and it is not good! maybe a break on Christmas will be good!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

I enjoyed reading your story. Congratulations for finishing the race, after all, a 50-miler race is no joke!